How to Run an A/B Test in Google Analytics

Source: Kissmetrics Blog

how-to-run-an-ab-test-in-google-analytics

Designs don’t always work out as intended.

The layout looks good. The color choices seem great. And the CTA balances clever and clear.

But…

It’s not working. All of it. Some of it. You’re not completely sure, but something’s gotta give.

Despite everyone’s best intentions, including all the hours of research and analyses, things don’t always work out as planned.

That’s where continuous testing comes in. Not a one-and-done or hail & pray attempt.

Even better, is that your testing efforts don’t need to be complex and time-consuming.

Here’s how to set-up split test inside Google Analytics in just a few minutes.

 

How to Setup Google Analytics Experiments

Setting up Content Experiments only takes a few seconds.

You will, however, have to set-up at least one or two page page variations before logging in. That topic’s beyond the scope here, so check out this and this to determine what you should be testing in the first place.

When you’ve got a few set-up and ready to go, login to Google Analytics and start here.

 

Step #1. Getting Started

Buried deep in the Behavior section of Google Analytics – you know, the one you ignore when toggling between Acquisition and Conversions – is the vague, yet innocuous sounding ‘Experiments’ label.

Chances are, you’ll see a blank screen when you click on it that resembles:

google-analytics-experiments-empty

To create your first experiment, click the button that says Create Experiment on the top left of your window.

With me so far? Good.

Let’s see what creating one looks like.

 

Step #2. Choose an Experiment

Ok now the fun starts.

Name your experiment, whatever.

And look down at selecting the Objective. Here’s where you can set an identifiable outcome to track results against and determine a #winning variation.

content-experiment-step-one

You have three options here. You can:

  • Select an existing Goal (like opt-ins, purchases, etc.)
  • Select a Site Usage metric (like bounce rate)
  • Create a new objective or Goal (if you don’t have one set-up already, but want to run a conversion-based experiment)

The selection depends completely on why you’re running this test in the first place.

RELATED:   EDMxLive Virtual Reality | November 28th, 2015

For example: most are surprised to find that their old blog posts often bring in the most traffic. The problem? Many times those old, outdated pages also have the highest bounce rates.

Navigate to: Behavior > Secondary Dimensions + Google/Organic > Top Pageviews > Bounce Rate.

Here’s an example:

google-analytics-source-medium

(Here are a few other actionable Google Analytics reports to spot similarly low hanging fruit when you’re done setting up an experiment.)

Let’s select Bounce Rate as the Objective for now, so we can make page changes to the layout, or increasing the volume and quantity of high quality visuals to get people to stick around longer.

After selecting your Objective, you can click on Advanced Options to pull up more granular settings for this test.

content-experiments-advanced-options

By default, these advanced options are off, and Google will “adjust traffic dynamically based on variation performance”.

However if enabled, your experiment will simply split traffic evenly across all the page variations you add, run the experiment for two weeks and shoot for a 95% statistical confidence level.

Those are all good places to start in most cases, however you might want to change the duration depending on how much traffic you get (i.e. you can get away with shorter tests if this page will see a ton of traffic, or you might need to extend it longer than two weeks if there’s only a slow trickle).

So far so good!

 

Step #3. Configure Your Experiment

The next step is to simply add the URLs for all of the page variations you want to test.

Literally, just copy and paste:

content-experiment-add-urls

You can also give them helpful names to remember. Or not. It will simply number the variants for you.

Step #4. Adding Script Code to your Page

Now everyone’s favorite part – editing your page’s code!

The good news, is the first thing you see under this section is a helpful toggle button to just email all this crap code over to your favorite technical person.

RELATED:   How to Install Font Awesome to Build Mockups in Photoshop and AI?

If you’d like to get your hands dirty however, read on.

setting-up-experiment-code

First up, double check all of the pages you plan on testing to make sure that your default Google Analytics tracking code is installed. If you’re using a CMS, it should be, as it’s usually added site-wide initially.

Next, highlight and copy the code provided.

You’re going to need to look for the opening head tag in the Original variation (which should be located literally towards the top of your HTML document. Search for to make it easy:

head-tag-source-code

Once that’s done, click Next Step back in Google Analytics to have them verify if everything looks A-OK.

Not sure if you did it right? Don’t worry – they’ll tell you.

For example, the first time I tried installing the code for this demo I accidentally placed it underneath the regular Google Analytics tracking code (which they so helpfully and clearly pointed out).

tracking-before-experiment-code-google-analytics

After double checking your work and fixing, you should see this:

review-and-start-content-experiment

And now you’re ready to go!

See, that wasn’t so bad now was it?!

 

Conclusion

Websites are never truly done and finished.

They need iteration; including constant analysis, new ideas, and changes to constantly increase results.

Many times, that means analyzing and test entire pages based on BIG (not small) changes like value propositions or layouts. These are the things that will deliver similarly big results.

Landing page optimization and split testing techniques can get extremely confident and require special tools that only CRO professionals can navigate.

However Google Analytics includes their own simple split testing option in Content Experiments.

Assuming you already have the new page variations created and you’re comfortable editing your site’s code, they literally only take a few seconds to get up-and-running.

And they can enable anyone in your organization to go from research to action by the end of the day.

Quiksnip is a social media marketing agency based in Los Angeles, California. They provide administrative assistance to startups trying to grow their online presence.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *